Time for the first concert of the tour.
“Maybe I should go get her.” Alicia said standing up from her spot on the sofa next to Mikey.
Gerard, who had been sitting with his eyes closed trying to quell the nervousness that had been steadily growing, nodded. “Yeah, that’s a good idea. Make sure she understands that she’s allowed all access.”
“Hell yeah.” Bob said joining in the conversation. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting her.” He glanced over at Gerard and smiled, “Of course some people have already been hanging out with her.”
Frank laughed, “Yeah, that’s true.” He leaned over to look at Gerard, “So has she already been interviewing you?”
Gerard shook his head, “Nope. We’ve just hung out together.”
Mikey was watching his brother closely. He had noticed how stressed he had looked earlier but as soon as Anna’s name was mentioned he’d seemed to perk up. He nodded to his wife, “At least go give her the backstage pass.”
“Will do.” Alicia said setting out to find Jake the tour manager.
Once she had Anna’s pass she headed out across the lot to the RV she assumed belonged to the author. It hadn’t been there earlier so it must be hers. She walked up to the door and knocked. A tall woman with curly red hair opened the door.
“Hey, I’m looking for Anna.”
The woman pushed open the door to allow Alicia to enter. Anna was sitting at the small table working on a laptop.
“Hello.” Anna greeted her.
Alicia walked over and took a seat. She laid the pass on the table. “The guys wanted me to make sure you got this. It’s all access so you’ll be able to come backstage.”
“Thank you.” Anna picked up the laminated pass and saw it was attached to a clip.
“I wear mine attached to my belt.” Alicia explained.
Anna nodded. Then realized she hadn’t introduced Claire. “Alicia this is my friend Claire. Claire this is Alicia, Mikey’s wife.”
Clair took a seat across from them. “It is nice to meet you.” She said with a nod. “Annabelle mentioned she had met you the night she was invited by Mrs. Way for dinner.”
Anna shot Claire a look, which Alicia saw.
“Did she say something bad about me?” She teased.
Anna laughed, “I did not. The look I gave Clair was a reminder that I wish to be called Anna. She has a problem remembering that.”
Claire clasped her hands and sighed, “I have called you Annabelle for so long it is difficult for me to remember.”
“So you guys have been friends a long time?” Alicia guessed.
“A very long time.” Anna answered.
“And you doing all the driving?’ Alicia asked remembering that Anna had told them she had never learned to drive.
Claire nodded. “Yes, I am. I actually enjoy driving. However we encountered an accident on the highway which explains our late arrival.”
Alicia noticed that Claire spoke in the same almost proper speech as Anna. “So did you both attend college together?”
“I never attended college.” Anna said noting the surprised look on Alicia’s face. “However Claire went to a University in England.”
Alicia’s cell vibrated. She glanced at the screen and laughed. “A text from the husband. He wants to know what’s taking me so long to get you?” She glanced at the laptop, “ but if you’re busy I can come back later to get you.”
Anna smiled, “No, I will go with you now. I was checking my e-mails but it can wait.” She stood but a frown marred her face.
“What’s wrong?” Alicia asked.
“I have just realized I am not dressed appropriately.” She looked down at her black mid-length skirt and white blouse then over at Alicia who was wearing jeans and a tee.
Alicia laughed, “Well you look very nice but maybe a bit overdressed for a concert. I’ll warn you it will be hot backstage.”
Claire seemed to be suppressing a smile.
Anna tried not to show her distain at Claries behavior. “Before the next stop we must shop. I truly did not pack the correct clothing.”
“Hey, you’ve got jeans, right?”
Once more Anna frowned, “Actually no. I am the most comfortable in skirts.”
Alicia eyed her closely. “We are about the same size I would guess. Come on we’ll just stop by my bus and find you something.”
It was obvious Anna was surprised by the offer. “Oh, that is not necessary. Unless you believe I will attract unwanted attention dressed like I am.”
Alicia smiled, “Anna you are going to attract attention regardless of what you wear.”
“I truly would prefer my identity to remain unknown. This book will be such a departure to my usual writing that I want it to surprise my readers.” Anna said sounding upset.
“Oh, yeah.” Alicia said quickly. “Just the guys, us wives and the tour manager know who you are and that you are doing research for a book. I just meant that with that long hair and those eyes, well you’re a knock out. You’re gonna get attention.”
Suddenly Anna began to second-guess her decision to travel with the band on this tour. She was uncomfortable attracting any attention, for many reasons.
“Perhaps I should stay here. If there is time after the concert I could talk with the band.”
Alicia shook her head, “Oh, no you don’t. No hiding allowed.” She thought a moment then added, “I got it. I will tell people you are my friend from back home. Now come on lets get you changed.” She started for the door.
Anna glanced over and saw that Claire was smiling again. She could not help but enjoy seeing how flustered Anna had become. To Claire’s way of thinking this could turn out to be a good thing. Anna needed to realize how difficult this path she had chosen could be. She stopped smiling when she saw the look on Anna’s face. Anna understood Claire’s thoughts and her look was definitely a warning.
“Well come on.” Alicia said smiling. She was standing at the door waiting.
Anna followed her after giving Claire one more look. That look, spoke volumes to Claire. She understood what Anna was saying. She nodded and watched Anna leave the RV.
Anna tugged on the tight tee shirt Alicia had loaned her as they walked into the backstage area. This outfit was definitely not something she was accustomed to wearing. She saw Alicia roll her eyes.
“Stop that. You look hot.” The look on Anna’s face caused Alicia to break into a fit of laughter. “Oh, this is gonna be such a great tour. I love having you around.” She linked arms with Anna as they walked. “But I still think you should have left your hair down.” She added noting the tight bun that now held Anna’s hair.
Anna tried to seem at ease but it wasn’t easy. However she admitted to herself that the friendship Alicia was showing her was nice. It was just something very foreign to her. She reminded herself she needed to work on that. As they walked down the hallway Anna could hear the loud voices of the band members. They were joking and laughing but she could sense the underlining tension. Walking into the large room the conversation came to a halt. Frank was the first to speak.
“Hello.” He said walking over to them. “I’m Frank.”
Anna smiled, “Yes, I know. Nice to meet you, Frank.”
Bob rolled his eyes as he walked over to join them. “Never mind the garden gnome.” He said nodding to Frank. “He’s just trying to get your attention.”
“Like you’re not?” Frank said giving the drummer a playful shove.
“Hey guys, chill.” Alicia said with a laugh. She looked around and saw that the room was occupied by only band members and their wives. Lowering her voice she said, “Hey, from now on this is Anna my friend from back home, okay?”
Bob realized what she was saying, “Oh, sure.”
Frank looked confused, “What?”
“She doesn’t want people to know who she is.” Bob said giving Frank a look that made it clearly obvious he was a little show on the uptake.
“Oh” Frank said grinning, “I get it now.”
His wife moved to his side. “Hello, I’m Jamia.” She said. “If you don’t mind me asking, why?’
Anna returned her smiled, “I simply prefer not to attract attention.” She answered honestly. “I just want to observe the band, get to know them as part of my research.”
“Yeah, and she’s pretty much an enigma. All over the Net people talk about how they’d love to meet her but that she never does interviews or book signings.” Bob added.
Gerard sat watching the exchange realizing he was becoming annoyed that Bob suddenly seemed to be such an expert on Anna. He rose to his feet and walked towards them.
Anna smiled as he drew near. However when she looked into his eyes she became worried. He looked very nervous but there was something else.
“Hey.” Gerard said in greeting.
“Hello.” Anna replied with a smile. “It is good to see you again.”
Gerard suddenly wanted to speak to her alone. “Uh, let me introduce you to everyone here and then I’ll give you a quick look at the stage before our show starts.”
After all the introductions were made Gerard took Anna’s arm and led her towards the stage area.
Ray waited until they were out of earshot to ask, “So is it just me or did Gerard seem really happy to see her?”
Frank nodded, “Yeah, dude. He sure wanted to get her away from us.”
Bob shook his head, “Dude, he wanted to get her alone.”
Mikey had a puzzled look on his face. Something about his brother was troubling him. It had been for a long time now. He was glad Gerard seemed to be getting along so well with Anna but it also worried him. Ever since his divorce Gerard had changed. He’d been crushed by it. Now he seemed to be very attracted to a woman he’d just met. He didn’t want to see his brother get hurt again.
Alicia leaned over and whispered to him. “Stop worrying.”
He gave his wife a smile, “How do you always know what I’m thinking?”
She gave him a hug, “Dude, I know you. But your brother is a big boy he can take care of himself. Besides I like Anna.”
Mikey nodded, “I do too. But wasn’t that your tee-shirt she was wearing?”
Alicia laughed, “Yep and my jeans.” She explained about Anna not having anything suitable to wear.
“She does dress kinda weird.’ Mikey said.
Again Alicia laughed, “Not weird just conservative. I don’t think she’s been to too many rock concerts.”
“Yeah, I don’t think so either. That’s what’s so weird about all this. Why does she want to write a book about MCR?”
Alicia thought a moment. “Anna seems kinda complex. But like she said at your mom’s, people assume things about her. Maybe she’s really into your music.”
Mikey nodded but was still not convinced. Something just seemed wrong to him. He leaned back and closed his eyes a moment trying to calm his nerves. He always felt like this before going on stage. He just hoped that Gerard’s nerves were under control.
“Uh, you look great.” Gerard said as he led Anna towards the side stage.
Much to his surprise Anna started laughing. “I look ridiculous.”
He stopped with a shocked look on his face. “No, you don’t.”
“I think I do.” Anna admitted. “These are Alicia’s clothes. She and I decided I had nothing appropriate to wear so she kindly loaned them to me.”
Gerard raised his eyebrows. “Appropriate?”
“Yes, appropriate.” Anna repeated. “What I was wearing earlier was not appropriate if I am trying to fit in.”
Gerard thought back to the times before this he had seen her. She had been dressed causal but her clothing was well tailored and more than likely very expensive. Now she looked like she did fit in with everyone. “Well, I liked the way you looked before and I like the way you look now.” In truth he loved the way she looked now. The tight tee-shirt and jeans showed off her body in a way he could truly appreciate.
“Thank you.” Anna said softly. “I am glad the clothing helps me to fit in with everyone else.”
“But you’re not like everyone else, Anna.” Gerard said taking a step towards her. “You are unique.”
All around them there was a flurry of activity but neither noticed. Anna looked deeply into his eyes. “May I ask a question?”
He nodded, “Sure.”
“Are you nervous?”
Gerard found himself unable to tear his gaze from hers? “Nervous?”
“Yes. This is the first concert of the tour. Are you apprehensive?”
“Oh” He had thought she meant was he nervous being with her. “Sure, yeah. I’m always fuckin’ nervous before every concert. In my head I think about all the shit that could go wrong but once I get out on the stage I’m okay.”
“You feed off the energy of the crowd.” Anna said softly.
Gerard blinked, “Yeah, I guess that’s part of it. But I love to perform and once the music starts it feels like I become someone else. I’m not me. Does that make sense?” He asked hoping she would understand.
Anna nodded, “Yes, I believe I understand. I have read that many performers feel the same way. You are able to detach yourself from the person you are in your real life and become someone else. You become Gerard Way the lead singer, the showman.”
Gerard laughed, “Well yeah. The guy on stage says and does things that I normally wouldn’t do. But that person is the one the fans come to see and I don’t want to let them down.”
“Your fans are very important to you.” Anna said knowingly.
He took a step back and pulled out his pack of cigarettes. After lighting one he asked, “So are you interviewing me right now?”
Anna smiled, “I suppose in a way I am doing that. This is one of the reasons I wanted to travel with the band on this tour. I am hoping it will afford me the chance to truly learn each member’s personalities.”
He took a deep drag then asked, “You said that is one of the reasons. What else?”
Anna moved slightly so that she could peer out and see the crowd. The venue was packed and the anticipation for the start of the show was thick in the air. She felt Gerard touch her shoulder and she turned back to face him.
“Anna?” He asked hoping she would answer his question.
“I wanted to travel with the band because I wanted to met you.” She said softly.
Gerard looked shocked. “But you are a famous author. I’m sure you could have met me some other way.”
Anna sighed, “We do not exactly travel in the same social circles.” She shook her head slightly, “In truth I travel in no social circles. I am the recluse the press had deemed me. It is hard for me.” She offered no other explanation.
“Hey, Gee. There is a photographer waiting backstage.” Ray called out.
Gerard nodded that he understood then turned back to face Anna. “I hope you won’t be disappointed by the real me.” He said frowning. “I’m not the man most people think I am.”
Anna once more spoke the truth, “The man I have spent time with these last few days has not disappointed me.”
Gerard shook his head, “But what if I was just being on my best behavior?”
This time Anna laughed, “What if you were? Perhaps I have been on my best behavior also.”
He suddenly felt his mood lighten. “If that’s the case then I’m looking forward to getting to know your bad behavior too.” He knew this sounded like he was flirting but then he realized that’s what he was doing and it felt good.
Her eyes seemed to darken but he convinced himself it was just a trick of the backstage lighting.
“What if my bad behavior frightens you?” She asked softly.
Without thinking he took a step closer to her then leaned over to whisper. “I like to be frightened sometimes.”
Anna locked eyes with him then whispered into his ear, “We shall see.”